tv University of Massachusetts Commencement Address CSPAN May 24, 2014 12:30pm-12:56pm EDT
class of 2014 -- [cheers and applause] >> congratulations for reaching this milestone and thank you for having me. the main event is dating in hand the degree for which you had worked hard for. i'm aware of that and how important it is for me to get on and off as quickly as possible. i get it. the main question is what is next? from the time you were little, some and had almost certainly been asking you what you wanted to be when you grow up. it is what adults ask kids, especially parents of their own kids. the kids answer with gusto. as young people get closer to
being grown up, the gusto seems to fade. when my daughters were college seniors, i would ask them and their friends what plans they were making for their lives after college. they hated that question. is it made them feel pressured to choose a career before they felt quite ready to do so. i tried to be patient. try to leave the site mentioning when i was their age, i do not have the option not to choose a path for myself after school. i also wanted them to understand as i do you that the choice you make now need not be and probably won't be the choice for all time. mostly and today, i wonder where in the world would we be if nobody ever wanted to be anything? i certainly hope there are future doctors, lawyers, engineers here. [applause]
i guess there are. i hope there are future soldiers and sailors and nurses and elders here. [applause] apparently there are some of those, too. i hope there are some of you who will have more than one career in the course of their working lives and i hope that whatever you choose to do that you do it with integrity. above all, i hope you will choose to be good citizens. there is so much emphasis on education as a pathway to a good job. i get that. education will be the key to your success and ours as a nation. despite strong job gains in massachusetts, we still have 220,000 people looking for work. 150,000 vacancies. the players keep telling us is that they can't find people with
the skills that they need to do the job that they have. your education here is more than just being prepared to be good employees. it is about preparation for citizenship itself. good citizens take an interest in people and issues outside themselves. they understand community. they inform themselves about what is happening in their community and a volunteer. they listen. they both. good citizens do not just live and work in a community. they build community. what a beautiful community you are. you are 5500 graduate strong. you represent nearly every race, ethnicity, and religion on the
planet and scores of languages and culture. many of you are the first ones in your family to learn english or to go to college or to graduate school. through this community, you are connected to each other and to the larger world. many of you clearly understand that and live that way. i remember a student who grade a program to connect homeless people to local resources for food, health care, and jobs. or another student and other students of the u mass engineering team who designed a mechanical arm to help the disable kindergartner feed himself.
for air force staff sergeant who having served two combat tours in iraq was to use his degree to make higher education more acceptable to returning veterans. [applause] each of you and so many others exemplify the highest form of citizenship by seeing dreams and struggles. we are caught up in an inescapable network of mutuality, dr. king used to say. tied in a single garment of destiny. whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. so many of you are living and acting in that spirit and making the kinds of choices good citizens make. it makes this faculty, your family, and a very proud indeed.
it seems to me that same spirit has to infuse more the public policy. surely no policy choice before this community and common law in this nation is more emblematic and climate change. we cannot continue to consume so much of the world's energy. it takes little responsibility for the impact of that consumption and the lives of others and the life of the planet itself. only this week the obama administration released a report co-authored by over 300 independent scientists that catalogs the evidence of climate change and its impact. assessment demonstrates that finally change is an issue right now and not just for future generations. the impacts that are being held in all corners of the country
are in a range of manifestations including heat wave, coastal flooding, and intense precipitation and more extreme storms. of those weather changes have implications. most of these conclusions are not new. we are seeing more severe weather extremes in our commonwealth and our region and more hurricanes and wildfires and more coastal damage and blizzards. starting seven years ago with that future in mind, we massachusetts took a fresh look at the energy reality. we knew that it we harnessed massachusetts grown energy sources and reduce energy consumption and protect our natural resources, we could strengthen the environment and our economy. i am proud of the progress we have made an example -- and the example we have set. today we have nearly 500
megawatts installed and we will triple that by 2020. in 2007, we had this to over 300 megawatts of wind capacity and today we have 103 megawatts of land-based wind and are poised to go home to the nation's first offshore wind farm. we have tripled the energy we are saving from the energy initiatives and lead the nation in energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction. working with other states that the regional greenhouse gas initiative, a lobar the carbon emissions throughout the region and demonstrated that that market based cap and trade approach worked. between 2000 and 2012, the electricity generated from coal in england drop from 18% to three percent.
electricity generated from oil is down from 22% to less than one percent. we have reduce the greenhouse gas emissions by 60% below 1990 levels already and we are well on our way to the goal reducing emissions i fully pray five percent by the year 2020. our economy -- reducing emissions fully by 35% by the year 2020. our economy -- massachusetts grew at a healthy 2.6% rate. in the last quarter, massachusetts grew 69% faster than the national growth rate. with over 5500 clean energy firms and nearly 80,000 clean energy workers, massachusetts is one of the strongest clean energy market in the nation. we can do more.
by 2015, we will make our communities more resilient. several plans have been closed and the recent years and to remain. within the next four years, both should shut down. massachusetts should finally end all reliance on conventional coal generation. as we migrate to cleaner natural gas. we should be mindful of the hazards of pipeline leaks to our immediate safety and to the environment. we should have that same care that the source of extraction. we should double down on solar,
wind, and hydro generation. we should migrate away from fossil fuels and transportation. we should find better sources for energy efficiency. we are getting the cleanest energy possible at every moment. it is not the ideal today, but it will get us there tomorrow. it is how we move from good to better the best. it is an economy driven by homegrown independent sources and renewable energy and cutting edge technology and hyper
efficient cars and buildings. it is a feature within our grasp. we do not have to wait for disaster. remember the stone age did not end because we ran out of stones. it is because humankind imagine a better way. good citizens who no longer compromise the water and air we share, why? because good citizens understand we are all connected and bound together in the inescapable network of mutuality. i think of a young lawyer on my staff.
we are not strangers. we are all connected to each other. we share the same fears and the same hopes and community. we are tied in a single garment of destiny. whatever what -- affects one directly affects us all indirectly. we are one community. be good citizens. the kind u mass has prepared you to be in your future and the world will be bright indeed. congratulations graduates. god bless you. good luck. [cheers and applause]
>> as part of the 2014 commencement coverage, we are joined by an english professor who has participated in the school's commencement selection ross says. he is also served as president of the american association of the university of professors. his latest book is "no university is an island." how does that university go about screening who to choose for the commencement address? >> what we do is we focus on the commencement speakers were going to receive an honorary degree which is rigidly that case across the country that has been speaker receives an honorary degree. the faculty senate has about 200 faculty members who are elected. they tie do consider them worthy
of the speech and award a degree. in a senate meeting, we discussed the possible people. on a number of occasions, we have advised that the university not go forward with a particular person. just this year, we recommended against two people. they were not used. i'm not going to give their names. baggage a good test of whether they're likely to be a problem with other people on campus. it is a wide enough constituency that if there will be problems, the problems will be raised at
that point. >> do you take into account the request of the graduating seniors? >> no. all i can say really is that this year there were no graduating senior responses. i think the problem of doing that is that if we're going to turn someone down, we really want to avoid publicity. you wouldn't want to embarrass someone. you want to have a vetting process that avoids insulting or embarrassing a potential speaker shared of course, that is what has happened on many campuses this year. by the time the speaker gets announced, then the protests arrive. others have been concerned there be public demonstrations. the whole purpose is to avoid it.
i'm not sure you could really put a lid on the names. >> we want to show our viewers a recent cartoon of the boston globe on that particular issue. some of the professors say, "we believe we found some who will offend no one. and someone is screaming, "hold on! isn't that the walmart face?" [laughter] >> the faculty has a strong influence on who gets elected. you have to get a broader feel. the commitment speech is an on location. people, controversial people speak on college campuses all the time. they draw a large audience and it might speak before their particular constituency on campus. i think it is important that students and faculty be challenged by talks on campus
and that they have many occasions to listen to controversial points of view. commencements are odd. the parents are there. the public is there. there are a large audience. around whomsomeone a greater degree of consensus has been built. >> you mentioned honorary degree. what about payment? do most get paid? and what about a speaker being withdrawn? with that payment still be drew? >> i doubt if the payment would still be due in most cases. the truth is that sometimes when an honorary degree is off for, there might -- the speaker may not get a fee or the fee might be lower if it is an honorary degree. money comes and goes. if you get a honorary degree it has to name, that stays with you until the end of your days.
there are certainly speakers that are brought in really because there is a whole that they have a particular interest in some of them -- so program the open initiative -- that will be an initiative. perhaps hoping if it is a wealthy speaker, they will donate to the university the future. there are many cases where the commencement speakers have an honorary degree and are targeted to people of means in the hopes that they will work with the university of noting some particular program that the university is concerned with. if we they will not be offered a
fee -- they are wealthy. i do not need the university's money. >> cary nelson is a former president on the american association of university professors. he served as an english professor at the university of illinois. you can find out more at his website. cary-nelson.org. >> once you have announced a commencement speaker, withdrawing that invitation or the honorary degree is basically an act of cowardice. i don't think that should happen. that has happened this year. i think it is deplorable. when a university doesn't have the courage to stay with its convictions. that is one of the worst things that can happen. it is also impossible to survive a demonstration at a commencement talk. there's nothing wrong in my view with an organized demonstration. banners, chants, whatever taking place for 30 seconds or a minute. the people engage in the demonstration sit down and
listen to the talk. a lot of people feel any demonstration is unacceptable. i think you can live with the demonstration so long as the people who are demonstrating accept the notion they have to let the speech go on. what is in conflict is if demonstrators try to present -- prevent a speech from taking place. some of the commencement speakers that have withdrawn have been afraid that they might face that kind of demonstration with the aim is to violate freedom and to prevent the speaker from continuing. that has happened in not commencement situations a fair number of times in the last few years. that reflects a failure to educate people on campus about the need to let people have their say when they are invited. >> professor nelson, we appreciate you joining us here on c-span.
we areur facebook page, asking who you would like to see as a commencement speaker. bernie sanders is one of the few street speakers available. graduates would benefit from their advice. evie says i like the idea of jay leno. he would not be boring. ron writes trey gowdy -- he has the moral compass to do what is right and is not influenced by those who are corrupt. the topsays just have graduates from previous classes, and give some life lessons. let celebrities and politicians stay home. let us know what you think on facebook.com. one of the lawmakers giving a speech was indiana congressman luke messer. he spoke to the graduating class at allstate university in muncie earlier this month. he was the president for the 113 congress. he told the story of the path
that led him to capitol hill. his speech is about 20 minutes. >> what a day. i want to thank the president for that introduction and every one of the university for this opportunity. i love commencements. they are a day to honor achievement and celebrate new beginnings for each graduate. it is also a day to remember the families and the teachers who helped you reach your goals. i love all the well earned smiles. congratulations to each of you. congratulations also to the university president, who is
retiring after 10 years of leaving this world class university. president, you are a force of nature. [applause] she even brought the sunshine today. there was no way it was going to rain on her last commencement. your groundbreaking efforts will leave an indelible mark on this campus for decades to come. thank you for your incredible service and best of luck in your next endeavor. i also want to acknowledge my wife, jennifer. she is here today with our children, emma, ava, and hudson. i want to thank my mom, my grandfather, and my aunt, andi, for being here today. she receiveder